What would be a natural occupation for an animal lover like Elaney? "A zookeeper," she said. And for one whole day, Elaney lived the dream of living life as a zookeeper! Along with her stepsister, she visited with various animals at the Louisville Zoo.
Elaney, aged 13, from Eudora, Kansas loves all types of animals and wished to be a “Zookeeper for a Day.” After reading a magazine article about a new baby elephant named Scotty at the Louisville Zoo in Kentucky, Elaney decided she wanted to go there to meet the newest addition. Through coordination with the national Make-A-Wish network, the zoo arranged for a day of activities to help fulfill Elaney’s wish.
Soon afterwards, Elaney and her family were off to go to the Louisville Zoo where surprises were waiting around every corner. The zoo had a full day planned where she would get a firsthand experience with several different animals. Her first stop in the morning was a special meeting with Scotty, the baby elephant, before he went out outside to greet the public with his mother, Mikki. Scotty ran right up to Elaney; she and her stepsister were able to spend several minutes feeding and playing with Scotty, while the elephant mother kept a careful eye on him. “I fed him an orange, petted him, and he even tried to untie my shoes,” said Elaney.
Elaney’s next stop was Lorikeet Landing where she was able to hold and feed colorful tropical birds. After holding the Lorikeets, Elaney met and fed camels and giraffes.
At lunchtime, Elaney and her stepsister created their own pizza for lunch at the African Outpost Restaurant. Afterwards, the zoo staff took the family back to the elephants’ living area for a special surprise. There, the family watched Scotty and him mom Mikki create an art painting. The painting was then given to Elaney as a gift! Elaney said she will treasure the painting forever.
The rest of Elaney’s wish day was filled with other animal visits. She visited the Boma Petting Zoo, the hippo area, gorilla sanctuary, aquarium and met with the wallabies and emus. Many of the animals were special in that they were part of an endangered or threatened species. The zoo staff even had two black footed ferret kits (babies) named after Elaney and her stepsister!
The following day Elaney and her family visited Huber’s Children’s Farm Park to see more animals and participate in several other activities. Fulfillment of Elaney’s wish to be a “Zookeeper for A Day” turned out to be a magical experience where she gained so much knowledge and happiness that she can carry with her into the future.
(Special thanks to wish granters Kim Hosey and Denise Reed)